(Geoff Murphy, New Zealand, 1985) 91 minutes


Director: Geoff Murphy
Producers: Don Reynolds, Sam Pillsbury
Screenplay: Bill Baer, Bruno Lawrence, Sam Pillsbury,
from the novel by Craig Harrison
Photography: James Bartle
Editor: Michael Horton
Music: John Charles
Bruno Lawrence (Zac Hobson)
Alison Routledge (Joanne)
Peter Smith (Api)
Anzac Wallace (Api's mate)
Norman Fletcher (Perrin)
Tom Hyde (Scientist)

Reviews and notes

Geoff Murphy has taken a man-alone theme and tumed it imaginatively to strong and refreshing effect in THE QUIET EARTH.

One of New Zealand's top directors, he helmed Utu, an historical epic based on the wars between Maori and European, an official selection out of competition at Cannes in 1983. An earlier feature was Goodbye Pork Pie.

With THE QUIET EARTH, Murphy really shows his commercial spurs in a film with a contemporary setting yet containing elements of sci-fi futurism. A cast of three might spell doom for a less accomplished and innovative hand. Murphy makes it seem an asset.

Plot centers on scientist Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) who wakes one morning to discover he is alone in the world. A global top-secret energy project he has been working on has malfunctioned and altered the fabric of the universe. While humanity appears to be wiped out, all its materialistic trappings remain. For a time, Zac lives out his fantasies.

Then begins a search for other survivors. He finds two - a woman, Joanne (Alison Routledge), and a man, Api (Peter Smith). The emotions unleashed by this trio in their struggle for survival propels the story, which has an intriguing mystical dimension, to a shattering conclusion.

The film is notable for high production values: photography, special effects, sound mixing and music are among the best-integrated of any Kiwi feature to date.

Acting isn't far behind. Lawrence, a veteran of N.Z. films turns in a performance that is funny and moving, while Maori actor Smith makes a bold debut. But it is Alison Routledge who is the real find. Possessing a special, delicate, Madonna-like beauty, she invests Joanne with sparky intelligence and strength.

THE QUIET EARTH is a hair's breadth away from being very good indeed. Only hiccups are some untidy narrative stretches and a slight lack of pulsebeat over the final stages. What it achieves without question is the establishment of Murphy as a director of international, commercial caliber.
-Nic, Variety, May 15, 1985.

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